Again Redpolls have appeared in flocks in Selfoss hunting for food. In the last few days up to 40 have been in our garden. These chirpy and beautiful birds are welcome guests. Few of them were seen here before Christmas and birders and garden owners missed them and speculated as to their whereabouts. Some even maintained that the stock had declined or that Redpolls had fled the country. The truth is that enough seed was to be had in birch forests after a favourable summer. So there was no need for them to leave the forest in search of feed in urban areas. However, here they are again to the joy of probably everyone.
The photos are from this weekend in our garden in Selfoss.
This morning a Goldfinch turned up in the garden. This is a new species in the garden, number 50 and a new bird on our Icelandic bird list. The Goldfinch is common in Europe but seldom ventures more northerly than the southern regions of Scandinavia.
Goldfinches were first seen in Iceland in 2005 and fifteen birds have been spotted since then. Most of these birds have been seen in Hornafjörður in Southeast Iceland. This is the first time the Goldfinch has been seen so westerly.
It is always exciting to see a Gyrfalcon, the biggest falcon in the world. Its main food source in Iceland is the Ptarmigan but it also hunts other birds such as ducks, geese and gulls. Last weekend we saw a Gyrfalcon eating a duck far out on the ice on Ellidavatn Lake, just outside Reykjavik. The Gyrfalcon was shy and not prepared to let a photographer get anywhere near.
By cropping the photo identification was possible and this time the Gyrfalcon had managed to catch a male Red-breasted Merganser.
I found some Common Crossbills on my walk in Grímsnes, South Iceland, last week. One male was already singing. In the last few years the Common Crossbills have started breeding in spruce and pine forests in February although it is still winter.
It will be interesting to see if this will also be the case this winter. We will be keeping an eye on them.
On Monday night we had a blizzard with blocked roads and the like. The last two days, however, have been exceptionally beautiful. Clear skies and calm winds, snow and ice everywhere. Winter days do not get much better than this if we leave out how difficult it is to get around, the dangerously slippery conditions and the frost that has been down to minus 10°.
The Ivory Gull is a breeding bird by the shores of the Arctic Sea. It has a near-circumpolar distribution in Arctic seas, breeding from north Canada, Greenland, Svalbard and islands off northern Russia.
Young Ivory Gulls are white with specs of grey and black in the wings and tail. When adult they become all white. Young birds are seen by Icelandic shores every year but grown-ups are rarely seen.
Today and yesterday a young Ivory Gull was seen in Þorlákshöfn, in South Iceland. The photos are taken today.
The American Coot is a very rare visitor in Iceland but one is now staying in the Reykjavík area. This is the sixth bird seen in Iceland so far. In North America the Coot is a common bird in freshwater wetlands. The American Coot is not a duck. It is a relation of the European Coot and is in lineage with cranes and rails.
The Coot is in the company of a group of Mallards that mostly stay on a pond where the birds are fed.
After a collapse in the biota, Kolgrafafjörður is again teeming with life. The silver darlings have returned to the fjord. Kolgrafafjörður is a shallow fjord on the northern side of Snæfellsnes. It is known for being a good food source for birds and sea mammals. In 2004 a road was constructed and a bridge built on the outer side of the fjord resulting in less renewal of seawater inside the fjord.
Once in a while huge amounts of herring used to come into the fjord during the winter months and the bridge did not change that. A lot of birds and small sea mammals followed the herring. This created a sensational spectacle by the bridge when the tide went in and out as Gulls, Northern Gannets and Great Cormorants fought to catch the herring. Harbour Seals, Grey Seals and Killer Whales were also a common sight by the bridge.
In 2011 – 2014 huge amounts of herring gathered in the fjord inside the bridge. In the winter of 2012 – 13 the herring died probably from lack of oxigen. It is estimated that around 50,000 tons of herring died this winter. This resulted in the collapse of the biota. Now the herring is back and Kolgrafafjörður is again full of life, – an attraction for bird watchers and nature lovers.
Birch seeds are the main food for Redpolls in the winter months. Last summer a lot of birch seeds matured in the natural Icelandic forests so there is still enough food for them. Redpolls have not been seen in any numbers in gardens and there has been some concern that their numbers are decreasing.
Last winter was harsh and natural feed scarce. The numbers of Redpolls decreased considerably but the drop was far from drastic. In the last few weeks Redpolls have come in the garden in search of food on our feeding trays. The most we have seen recently is 18 birds together.
Happy New Year dear readers and thanks for following our blog. Our resolution is to continue posting photos of the birdlife around us and bringing you photos and info from interesting places we visit.
Today there is a little more snow than yesterday and the storm Frank has left the country. It is a beautiful first day of the year 🙂